I was storm bound in Muros for over a week. I spent a lot of time cycling in the rain and trying without success to make a real Spanish tortilla. A few locals were good enough to pretend they enjoyed my garbled Spanish, and there was also a good number of mad sailors to while away the hours with; including the Brit with a passion for raw vegetable smoothies and hard recreational drugs, who had left the brothel that he was managing in east London for a peaceful life of sailing and philosophising on the meaning of life. I also had a visit from my mother, who was crewing aboard an old Scottish trawler, trying to stalk her son around the world to make sure he is in good supply of clean underwear and porridge. Nice though it was, northerlies were coming, and I had to keep on pretending to be a cool singlehanded sailor hundreds of miles from his mother, so I scarpered pretty sharpish and continued south.
How foolish I was, to think I could escape so easily! Halfway to Porto they caught me up in the middle of the night, guessing my route and steaming south at 8 knots, calling me on VHF every so often. They tried to board, to wash my bedding and give me a hot water bottle, but I convinced them to just provide me with an accurate position and let me go.
I was approaching Leixoes the next afternoon, wondering how far off I was exactly, when I spotted a extremely useful yellow bouy – when you get within about 100 ft of it, you can see that it is in fact the superbouy on the chart with the 2km restricted area around it, and then know exactly where you are. There are lots of very large tankers around Leixoes, and I was nervous about meeting one head on at the harbour entrance, but they obviously knew I was coming and had stopped all traffic for me, because I didn’t see anything.
Leixoes wasn’t particularly inspiring, and after a few days I sailed up into Porto itself in company with a mad Frenchman, and moored alongside a Norwegian pilot cutter against a harbour wall. Tie was also moored there, but nobody else – only four boats, and the whole of Porto to ourselves – a beautiful city, and not least for its port.
A couple of nights later Tai cooked Chinese dumplings in a local restaurant for a big group of us (Stefan and another boat-load of Swedes had arrived by then). I was well on my way to convincing a Russian princess to go to bed with me, when all my efforts were thwarted by a Swede by the name of Elin, who boarded my boat by force and refused to leave. She brought her books and her toothbrush and made out that I had invited her to sail with me.
She and I sailed from Porto to Cascais via a short stop in Peniche, and I showed her the delights of low-tech sailing by getting becalmed, headed, lost, stuck on a lee shore, lost in fog, becalmed again in a shipping lane, and finally arriving late in the wrong port. However, she wasn’t easily put off, and had obviously decided that I was not fit to look after myself or the nice Swedish boat that I had gotten my dirty hands on, and so she didn’t dive overboard at the first sight of land, as I had expected. Which was a nice surprise.
In Lisbon we drank overpriced cocktails and I had to be dragged by the ankles out of the maritime museum, which was the only thing of much interest in the city. I nearly got in a fight with the twentieth drug dealer who wouldn’t couldn’t believe I didn’t want his drugs, and we hitched a lift with the defence minister’s advisor back to the boat in Cascais.